Time for a Change to the System

By: John “Fragglepuss” Evans

There are currently 156 WFTDA leagues. There will be 40 leagues that make the playoffs this year, 10 from each Region. In 2009 there were 78 WFTDA leagues and there were still 40 leagues that made the playoffs, 10 from each Region. In the span of a few short years the number of WFTDA leagues has doubled, yet the same number of leagues make the playoffs. To go even further, pretty much the same 40 leagues make the playoffs year after year. Below is a list of the leagues from each Region that have made the playoffs from 2009 – 2011:

East Region

North Central Region

South Central Region

West Region

1-      Gotham2-      Philly

3-      Charm

4-      Carolina

5-      Boston

6-     Providence

7-      Steel City

8- CT Rollergirls

9- DC Rollergirls

10-   Dominion

11-   Montreal

12-   Dutchland

13-   Maine

14-   London

1-      Windy2-      Detroit

3-     Minnesota

4-      Naptown

5-      Cincinnati

6-   Mad Rollin’

7-      Brewcity

8-      Arch Rival

9-      Chicago

10-   Ohio

11-   North Star

12-   Omaha

13- Grand Ragg

14- Burning Riv

1-      Texas2-      Kansas

3-      Houston

4-      Dallas

5-      Atlanta

6-     Nashville

7-      Tampa

8-  West Texas

9-      No Coast

10-   Memphis

11-  Hard Knox

12-Green Cou.

13-  Gold Coast

14-   Omaha

1-      Oly2-      Rocky

3-     Denver

4-      Rose

5-      B.A.D.

6-      Rat

7-      Sacred

8-      Jet

9-      Tucson

10-   Angel

11- Duke City

12-   Pikes

In three years there have only been 12 leagues from the West to make the playoffs! There have only been 14 leagues in each of the other three Regions to make the playoffs in the last three years. Odds are that there are not going to be very many new leagues making the playoffs this year, and so the small list of leagues that have made the playoffs will remain small.

If only 54 leagues have made the playoffs in the past three years, and there are now 156 WFTDA leagues, what about the other two-thirds of the leagues with virtually no chance of making the “Roller Derby Post Season”? What is their drive to be competitive if their chance to reach the playoffs is gone before the season even starts?

The higher ranked leagues will not play the lower ranked leagues, and so the lower ranked leagues play other low ranked leagues with little or no chance to prove themselves and rise up the rankings. Higher ranked leagues find a way to manipulate the system by playing leagues out of their own Region to fulfill their 2 bout per Quarter minimum. After all, it leaves the leagues with a high ranking because: a) no one is sure of how good they are compared to other leagues in their own Region because they are not playing leagues in their own Region and b) Highly ranked leagues are simply given the benefit of the doubt, “well if they were good in the past they must be good now even though they haven’t played anybody”.

Now I am not saying that WFTDA should just start throwing new leagues into the playoffs just to give them a chance. I am just pleading for some sort of change for the better and giving an example of what could be done to remedy the situation.

The first and most important step is to require leagues to play other leagues within their own Region. This is the point of having leagues divided into specific Regions. How is anybody supposed to know how League A in the West compares to other leagues in the West if they only play leagues from the East?

The WFTDA Ranking Policy states, “Leagues are eligible to enter the Ranking once they have played two WFTDA-sanctioned games against a ranked member (http://wftda.com/policies-rankings). This is such an easy fix. Instead of making leagues play any two ranked members, make them play two ranked members within their own Region. This should not be a problem since Regions are divided geographically. It should be the easiest for leagues within one’s own Region to bout each other rather than traveling across the country to bout. 

This suggestion does not imply that playing leagues from other Regions is banned, simply that leagues actually have to play other leagues within their Region to remain eligible for WFTDA rankings. This change to the WFTDA Ranking Policy would make the Quarterly WFTDA rankings more meaningful because the voters would be able to determine how good a league is compared to other teams in its own Region and vote more appropriately.

My second suggestion is as follows: As the system currently stands, leagues #1 – #10 in each Region go to the playoffs. My suggestion is to add a second tier of playoffs for leagues #11 – #20 in each Region. The new playoffs would be similar to the current playoffs except that it is leagues #11 – #20 that participate. These playoffs are played out and the leagues receive a new WFTDA ranking based on how they placed in the tournament. For example, the winner of the tournament moves to #11 in their Region, second place in the tournament moves to #12, and so on.

This additional playoff system would give another 40 WFTDA leagues a chance to compete and showcase their skills. A tournament winner would move up to #11 in their Region and receive respect and recognition for their accomplishment. Not only this, but they would also be within striking distance of the higher tier of playoffs in the following year.

It is pointless to divide into Regions and vote on rankings within a Region if leagues do not play other leagues within their own Region. It is a lie to state that most leagues even have a chance of ever making the playoffs with the current system. I’m not saying that these two suggestions are a perfect solution for the WFTDA problem at hand. I am merely throwing out ideas of what would be better than the current system and tossing out a plea for a change to the system, any change for the better.

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6 Responses to Time for a Change to the System

  1. skaytanik says:

    I was gonna suggest the “second tier” but you took the words right out of my mouth 🙂

    If they want this sport to grow, they’re going to have to adjust tournament systems to accommodate it (growth). That, and you’re right, it kind of screws a lot of leagues out of having something to look forward to 😛


    • derby lover says:

      I agree.. that’s the true spirit of competition . We have to have something to work for and achieve. Well said fragglepuss .


  2. Bruce says:

    What about the idea I’ve been hearing for a couple years now about breaking the WFTDA into Divisions instead of regions? Create 3 different divisions based on rankings and have championships for each Division.


  3. fragglepuss says:

    I like the idea of Divisions, there would be a lot of benefit to it. The problem that I see with Divisions is that each Division would span across the nation (and the world really), so if leagues must play other leagues within their Division, the traveling costs would rise, which is never a good thing for people that are paying their own way. One way to fight those traveling costs would be to hold more tournaments so that leagues could get more bang for their buck, so to speak.


  4. Pingback: “We’re #1!…or are we?”: Analyzing Roller Derby Ranking Systems | Fragglepuss

  5. Sam says:

    Divisions definitely work in North America, but I’m not sure they work in Europe and Australia.
    One sticking point for leagues outside of North America is that they currently have to fit within the regions that are drawn based on the geography of North America. Divisions wouldn’t change this. A team like Victorian Roller Derby in Australia would still need to come to North America to qualify for a division tournament.

    I think I would keep the regions, but make them a bit smaller. Instead of having a Western region that includes Australia. Have a Pacific Rim region that includes Australia, New Zealand and any other country with derby in that part of th world. Have a West Coast region and a Mountain West region. Same goes for the rest of the world and North America.

    More teams would qualify for regional playoffs than the current regional system and we would see a greater variety of teams going to Championships.


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